Monitoring the South African National Antireteoviral Treatment Programme, 2003-2007: The IeDEA Southern Africa Collaboration

Objectives: To introduce the combined South African cohorts of the International Epidemiologic Databases to Evaluate AIDS-Southern Africa (IeDEA-SA) collaboration as reflecting the South African national antiretroviral treatment (ART) programme; to characterize patients accessing these services; and to describe changes in services and patients 2003-2007. Design & setting Multi-cohort study of 11 ART programmes in Gauteng, Western Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. Subjects ART-naïve adults and children (<16 years old) who initiated ART with ≥3 antiretroviral drugs before 2008. Results: Most sites were offering free treatment to adults and children in the public sector, ranging from 264 to 17,835 patients per site. Among 45,383 adults and 6,198 children combined, median (IQR) range was 35.0 years (29.8-41.4) and 42.5 months (14.7-82.5) respectively. Of adults, 68% were female. Median CD4 cell count was 102 cells/µL (44-164) and was lower among males than females (86, 34-150 vs 110, 50-169, p<0.001). Median CD4% among children was 12% (7-17.7). Between 2003 and 2007, enrolment increased 11-fold in adults and 3-fold in children. Median CD4 count at enrolment increased for all adults (67-111 cells/µL, p<0.001) and for those in Stage IV (39-89 cells/µL, p<0.001). Among children <5 years, baseline CD4% increased over time (11.5%-16.0%, p<0.001). Conclusions: IeDEA-SA provides a unique opportunity to report on the national ART programme. The study describes dramatically increasing enrolment. Late presentation, especially of men and children, remains a concern. Investment in sentinel sites ensures good individual-level data while freeing most sites to continue with simplified reporting.